Bolivia vs. Ecuador: Final score 1-1, La Tri hang on as La Verde onslaught falls short

Paul Bereswill

Ecuador dominated the first half but had nothing to show for it, and were lucky to snatch a point after Bolivia took complete control of the second.

The first half belonged to Ecuador as they put the hosts under sustained pressure early on and didn't really let off until half-time.

Jefferson Montero had the ball in the back of the net fairly early after tapping in Antonio Valencia's cross, but the goal was correctly ruled out for a marginal offside. The visitors continued to press for a goal, and had their chance from a scramble in front of the Bolivia goal shortly afterwards, but a foul from Jefferson Montero eventually saved the hosts.

Valencia was looking far better than his recent form in England had suggested, and once again showed some excellent play to set up Montero, whose turn and shot was on target for once. But it was not enough to beat Romel Quinonez in goal, who was alert to make the save. It proved to be the best chance of the half for Ecuador, who had to go into the break with the score goalless despite their domination.

Yet things were about to get worse for the visitors, as Bolivia struck early in the second half with a sucker punch. Jaime Iriondo came from the bench to score a 30-yard effort which ended up in the back of the net, greatly aided by some shoddy goalkeeping from Alexander Dominguez.

Bolivia continued to look threatening, and struck the post twice in the ensuing minutes. Iriondo tried his luck from a difficult position again -- and his effort from a tight angle struck the post -- before Marcelo Martins struck the crossbar with a strike from almost 35 yards out, as Ecuador looked increasingly nervy.

Yet immediately afterwards, poor fortune cost Bolivia their lead, as Ronald Raldes fell onto the ball in the area, leading the referee to call handball and award a penalty to Ecuador, which was unstoppably smashed into the roof of the net by Felipe Caicedo to level the scores.

Montero was having a typical game, showing plenty of excitement and endeavour with his pace and trickery, but let down by his delivery and finishing. His best chance came when he darted into the Bolivia area, eluding several tackles and seemingly getting in a position to take the goalkeeper out of the equation, but lashed his shot high and wide with the far corner gaping.

Leandro Maygua went close as Bolivia continued to look like they were capable of victory, his long-range effort deflected for a corner which ended up being flicked onto the post, as Ecuador looked on the ropes. Yet towards the end, a rare break from the visitors led to Montero coming up with a one-on-one down the left wing in a promising position. After beating his marker, his cross was overhit, with Caicedo being harshly penalised for a foul in pursuing it.

It was the first of a surprising late flurry from the visitors, and Quinonez probably saved a point for his team in the last minute as he got a hand to Christian Noboa's drive from the edge of the area, which -- despite the goalkeeper seeing it late -- was not enough to find its way into the back of the net.

It's not too terrible a result for Ecuador, but it's also not too terrible a result for their qualification rivals Uruguay, who are up against it in taking on Colombia later. La Tri dropping points here will be music to their ears.

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